Tobacco Use Across the Life Stages
Preventing tobacco use and helping people who use tobacco quit can improve the health and quality of life for Americans of all ages. People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk of disease and premature death. Benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, but quitting tobacco use is beneficial at any age.
- Secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack in a child who previously had not exhibited symptoms of asthma. Children with asthma who are around secondhand smoke have more severe and frequent asthma attacks.7
- Infants and children younger than 6 who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.7
- Children who regularly breathe secondhand smoke are at increased risk for middle ear infections.7
- Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).7
- Each day in the United States, approximately 3,450 young people age 12 to 17 smoke their first cigarette.4
- Adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely than those who do not use smokeless tobacco to smoke cigarettes as adults.8, 9, 10 Smoking during adolescence is associated with other health risks, including high-risk sexual behavior and alcohol and substance use.8, 11
- The risk of developing lung cancer is approximately 23 times higher among men who smoke and 13 times higher among women who smoke compared with people who have never smoked. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.12
- Men and women who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than people who do not smoke.12
- People who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their heart disease risk by 25% to 30% and their lung cancer risk by 20% to 30%.7
- Smoking during pregnancy causes health problems for both women and infants, including pregnancy complications, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Approximately 1 in 8 women in the United States smoke during pregnancy.
- People who smoke die approximately 13 to 14 years earlier than people who do not smoke.13
Determinants of Tobacco Use
A broad range of social, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors have been associated with tobacco use, including gender, race and ethnicity, age, income level, educational attainment, geographic location, and disability. Motivation to begin and to continue smoking is strongly influenced by the social environment, although genetic factors are also known to play a role. Smoke-free protections, tobacco prices and taxes, and the implementation of effective tobacco prevention programs all influence tobacco use.
Among adolescents and young adults, in particular, tobacco use is influenced by:
- The use of tobacco and approval of tobacco use by peers or siblings
- Smoking by parents or guardians
- Accessibility of tobacco products
- Exposure to tobacco use promotional campaigns
- Low self-image or self-esteem
Understanding and addressing these factors is key to reducing the number of Americans who use tobacco or are exposed to secondhand smoke.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual smoking—attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses—United States, 2000–2004. MMWR. 2008;57(45):1226–1228. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm
2Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, et al. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA. 2004;291(10):1238–1245.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: current cigarette smoking among adults aged ≥ 18 years—United States, 2009. MMWR. 2010;59(35):1135–1140. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5935a3.htm?s_cid=mm5935a3_w
4Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Results From the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Rockville, MD: 2010. Available from http://www.gmhc.org/files/editor/file/a_pa_nat_drug_use_survey.pdf [PDF - 93KB]
5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking—attributable morbidity—United States, 2000. MMWR. 2003;52(35):842–844. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5235a4.htm
6Behan DF, Eriksen MP, Lin Y. Economic Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Report. Schaumburg, IL: Society of Actuaries; 2005. Available from https://www.soa.org/Research/Research-Projects/Life-Insurance/research-economic-effect.aspx External Web Site Policy
7Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General: Secondhand Smoke: What It Means To You. Washington, DC: 2006. Available from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/secondhandsmoke/secondhandsmoke.pdf
8Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: 1994. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/1994/index.htm
9Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Path to Smoking Addiction Starts at Very Young Ages. Washington, DC: 2009. Available from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0127.pdf [PDF - 93KB] External Web Site Policy
10Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco use among middle and high school students—United States, 2000–2009. MMWR. 2010;59(33):1063–1068. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5933a2.htm
11Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. How Parents Can Protect Their Kids from Becoming Addicted Smokers. Washington, DC: 2009. Available from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0152.pdf [PDF - 198KB] External Web Site Policy
12Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: 2004. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2004/index.htm
13Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual smoking—attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses—United States, 1995–1999. MMWR. 2002;51(14):300–303. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm